Portfolio tastings within the wine industry come in a wide range of shape and sizes: everything from grandiose and crowded, to boutique and intimate. I went to one recently that was somewhere in the middle. The AmoVino Portfolio Tasting was high energy and spirited but the space itself was small with only a handful of featured wineries. It was a prime example of quality over quantity.
Jessica and Marisa, founders of AmoVino Distributors, have been in the Vancouver import game for only a couple of years. It’s abundantly clear that they have fantastic relationships within the industry and are making smart and strategic decisions when it comes to choosing which producers they work with. I was fortunate enough to attend their 1st annual portfolio tasting where each table was a different experience, some wines I had tasted before while some of the new ones I tried blew me away. Here’s a roundup of some of my favourites:
Anthony’s relationship with AmoVino is still in its infancy having just joined forces this spring. His Lawson Pinot Blanc and Ashlyn Pinot Noir showcase the impeccable individual uniqueness that these two varietals are capable of. The Pinot Blanc, sourced from the Black Sage Gravelbar in the Okanagan Valley, is bright and fresh with lots crisp apple and pear flavours. It’s elegant with a touch of floral. Having spent 5 months on light lees, the round mouthfeel makes it a fantastic pairing to share with friends over a plate of soft cheese and dried fruits. Anthony’s wines are named after his children. When speaking with him, his passion for both family and winemaking comes through in spades.
If you know much about me, you know I love Spanish wine. Based in Rueda, Soto Y Manrique produces only 3 wines. Only 3! Again, I must reference quality over quantity. I fell head over heals for the vegan and biodynamically produced Tinita de Verdejo. Only a quarter of the grapes saw some age in old French barrels, providing some softness to the bright acidity and complexity. Delicious nectarine and pear flavours to add just the right amount of sweetness.
This label might look familiar if you happen to follow AmoVino on Instagram. The Sottal Vinho Leve made a big splash at this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival. And rightly so, the roughly $16 retail makes this blend (Moscatel 50%, Arinto 40%, Vital 10%) an impeccable deal. Honeydew and flowers lead the charge on the palate with a nice dry, crisp finish. An incredible easy drinker.
It’s hard to pick a favourite from Blue Grouse. This Vancouver Island winery’s portfolio is large and continues to grow. Winemaker Bailey, who is always so kind and passionate when he speaks about his wines, simply wants to make more wine for more wine lovers. If I had to pick a favourite from their line-up it’d be the Quill Rosé. Made from approximately 2/3 Gamay and 1/3 Pinot Noir, it’s bursting with raspberry and currant fruit flavours with texture and body and depth. It truly is tremendous, and the colour is gorgeous to look at too!
Standing in front of these wines and tasting through the selections was a remarkable experience. Jessica took me on a very unexpected journey from Lily’s Pet Nat (stands for pétillant naturel) Sparkling Chardonnay and single varietal Rousanne to Rhone Valley reds. That’s right, Rhone Valley varietals done with a fun, hippy, Californian twist.
The Old Vine Carignane stole the show for me. How old? The Mendocino vines were planted in 1939. The juicy dark berry flavours were dominant with the perfect amount of cinnamon spice and herbs to take you on a journey.
Donkey & Goat are confident wines, assured of their naturalness. Wild or native yeasts are the only ones used for fermentation, they foot stomp their grapes for additional juice (and why not really? it’s proven to be the most effective way to extract flavours), and they keep their sulphur use to a minimum. If you come across any of their wines, snatch it up right away!
Thank you to Jessica and Marisa for hosting and showcasing your sensational wines. Thank you to Provence Marinaside for your beautiful venue. And thank you (that’s right, you!) for keeping your eyes peeled for these stunning wines and giving them a try – you can thank me later.